Everbridge, a provider of critical communications services, leverages the cloud to ensure its systems are always available and able to handle sudden traffic bursts. By using a unified F5 solution that includes virtual editions, Everbridge can better manage traffic and security within its own data centers, as well as multiple global cloud service providers. This also provides added scalability and decreases overhead costs.
Everbridge provides unified critical communications—emergency notifications regarding critical events (ranging from IT data breaches to natural disasters) that are delivered using multi-modalities, often on a global scale. These solutions help customers respond quickly during disruptive events, mobilizing citizens, employees, and all types of stakeholders to take action. With just a few clicks of the mouse, customers can use Everbridge solutions to send notifications to a specific group or to millions of affected people.
Everbridge originally delivered its services from two data centers in the United States and Canada. As the company grew into a global Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, it realized that ongoing investment in a physical server infrastructure was not economically feasible. Consequently, Everbridge adopted a hybrid environment, using the cloud to complement its physical data centers. The company created 11 virtual private data centers within four cloud service providers in geographically dispersed locations.
“As a critical communications SaaS provider, we’re called into action in times of critical need,” explains Frank Basso, Vice President of SaaS Operations at Everbridge. “If a regional government needs to send emergency notifications to a million citizens, for example, they’re relying on us to potentially save thousands of lives.” He adds that redundancy and dynamic scalability, made possible by the cloud, are the most important requirements to meet such high spikes in demand and aggressive service targets.
However, cost-effectively managing this capacity across so many virtual private and physical data centers, while maintaining rapid performance and dynamic scalability, had become challenging as Everbridge grew to support 2,500 global customers. The effort required to operate multiple Application Delivery Controller (ADC) solutions in different cloud environments wasted valuable time and added to administrative cost.
To address these challenges, Everbridge needed to upgrade its ADC platform. “We were already an F5 shop, but as part of our upgrade, we looked at other solutions,” says Basso. “Ultimately it came down to price and performance, but we also needed a solution that would be able to run across our hybrid global environment. The other providers did not have the fully functional virtual editions we needed. That made choosing the unified F5 BIG-IP platform easy.”
Everbridge is deploying virtual editions of BIG-IP product modules across all four of its global cloud providers. The virtual editions complement BIG-IP appliances to optimize resources and promote seamless management. The company is also implementing the programmability capabilities of the F5 iRules scripting language, and taking advantage of the flexible Good, Better, Best licensing model. To address critical security concerns, Everbridge deployed BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager (AFM) to protect the network itself and serve as the foundation of a consolidated, layered defense strategy. It also deployed BIG-IP Application Security Manager (ASM) to protect the company’s web-based applications wherever they’re deployed.
Basso notes that F5 support and Professional Services made the installation process painless. “They’ve been outstanding. We were so impressed that we upgraded our support level just so we could have them on tap at any time in the future.”
Everbridge uses the unified F5 solution to manage local and global traffic and manage security across multiple cloud service providers as well as its own data centers. Consequently, Everbridge can draw upon the resources of these providers to scale dynamically, strengthen security, and more easily comply with regulations.
Everbridge is using BIG-IP virtual editions to resolve inconsistencies in the ways cloud service providers operate and align them with on-premises data centers. Says Basso, “We’re able to cut administrative overhead and costs because F5 gives us one platform—one management interface for local and global traffic management and all security management.”
Basso describes his team’s moment of realization that led to the new Everbridge model: “Wow! It would be a whole lot easier to manage traffic and security if we deploy F5 solutions everywhere.” That is, each cloud provider had its own ADC offerings, so Everbridge decided to refit them in favor of the BIG-IP platform.
Basso cites iRules as another source of savings. His team uses iRules that operate across the physical and virtual data centers to create scripts that remove a significant traffic burden from the company’s application servers. “With iRules, our operations staff is able to manage odd and extreme traffic circumstances at the network level, so our engineering staff doesn’t have to build that functionality into our products themselves, where it doesn’t really belong.”
Everbridge uses cloud services to avoid expensive infrastructure investments that are required to handle high demand. The flexibility of BIG-IP virtual editions enables Everbridge to dynamically scale up during sudden spikes in demand by using the same tools across multiple cloud providers.
“Dynamic scalability is the key,” says Basso. “If we had to build a physical infrastructure to support peak performance, we’d go bankrupt.” Apart from peak demand, the same cloud services support the company’s rapid business growth.
During the upgrade, Everbridge decided to improve security by deploying both BIG-IP ASM and BIG-IP AFM. “When we looked at our security, we wanted to reinforce a layered approach,” says Basso. “While we already had multiple layers of security protecting our network, it’s more efficient to have security solutions that are within the network itself, on one set of devices or a single device. That lowers administrative costs, promotes ease of use, and makes it easier to reproduce the solution strategy in future deployments.”
Basso adds that in terms of application firewalls, security modules, and login coordination from those devices, it made sense to put it all on F5. Everbridge originally considered multiple products for denial of service prevention, application security, and application firewalls, but it would have had to stack one appliance on another. “With F5, Everbridge has everything it needs all on one platform, and it’s simple to add the BIG-IP ASM layer,” says Basso.
Everbridge can now choose from multiple cloud services, which maximizes availability and makes it easier to comply with data storage regulations in specific geographic areas. These regulations include the U.S.–EU Safe Harbor Framework and the Federal Information Security Management Act. “Like performance and security, regulatory compliance is a major factor in our technology decisions—it was partly why we expanded outside the United States,” says Basso. This flexibility has made it possible for Everbridge to establish a global presence.
Summarizing the upgrade project, Basso concludes, “When we realized how easy it was to add bundled virtual editions, it was perfect for us. F5’s Good, Better, Best pricing was right. The performance was right. The feature set was exactly what we needed. We had to jump on the opportunity.”